The latest, late-night, revisions to the Senate’s landmark tax reform bill saw numerous additions and changes. However, many of them looked like special industry carve outs to tax policy observers.
Revisions included various tax cuts for the producers of beer, wine and liquor, and a new provision – dubbed “The Harvey Weinstein tax” was also added. This new provision, named after the Hollywood titan, and Democratic pervert mega-donor, Harvey Weinstein, prevents corporations from deducting attorney’s fees and settlement payouts in sexual harassment and abuses cases.
The liquor provision would also reduce the excise taxes on the American-made beer and distilled spirits, a change that was long sought by the industry. It would also expand the tax credits currently available to the small wine producers, making that break available to all wine producers and importers.
Right now, the lowest federal excise tax of $1.07 per gallon applies to wine only that contains up to 14% alcohol and a $1.57/gal rate applies to wines with 14% to 21% alcohol. Under the new proposal, the lowest $1.07 rate would apply to wines with up to 16% alcohol.
The liquor changes would expire just after two years and would save taxpayers $4.2 billion, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.
They were proposed as an amendment by Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican. A separate bill to make similar tax cuts on a permanent basis is being sponsored by Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, and Portman gave Wyden credits at a Finance Committee hearing Wednesday.
Like the industry seeking the cuts, Portman said that the changes would produce jobs, citing 61 new breweries opening in the past year in Ohio.
“Ohio is No. 4 right now in craft beer production and we like that”, Portman said. “This legislation is only going to promote the expansion and the jobs that come with these entrepreneurial small businesses.”
“Half the typical price of a bottle now goes to taxes”, Kraig Naasz, the president and chief executive of the Distilled Spirits Council, said. “If you return some of that to producers large and small, those funds will be reinvested in businesses that create jobs and promote U.S. agriculture.”
The change about dealing with the lawsuit settlements was proposed by Senator Bob Menendez. The spokesman, Juan Pachon said it was motivated by the publicity about the settlements over harassment by Hollywood producer Weinstein and former Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly.
Weinstein, O’Reilly and their companies have used the nondisclosure agreements in their legal settlements or employment contracts to compel the employees to keep quiet about the alleged wrongdoings. Such agreements are pervasive in the business world and are used to protect everything from company secrets to extreme cases of sexual harassment.
“Right now a company can secretly settle allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace, silencing the victim, and making it harder for other victims to come forward to seek justice”, Pachon said.